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posted Thursday, November 26, 2020 - Volume 48 Issue 48
Seattle City Council passes budget
Section One
ALL STORIES
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Seattle City Council passes budget

SPD cut by 20%

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Seattle City Council passed a 2021 budget package on November 23, by a vote of 8 to 1. District 3 Council member Kshama Sawant was the only "no" vote.

The $6.5 billion budget tried to compensate for COVID-19 holes, increase funding for homeless residents, revive Seattle's Green New Deal, and cut the Seattle Police Department (SPD) budget by around 20%.

The budget passed this week is a step back from councilmembers' commitments to defund the SPD by 50%. The new budget probably will not lead to reductions in the size of the police force. The council also passed on a police hiring freeze that would have resulted in a $9 million savings to the City.

However, the new budget does not provide for any net increases in SPD personnel. In a last-minute amendment, Budget Committee Chair Teresa Mosqueda cut an additional $2 million from police salary funding.

About $40 million of the cuts in the SPD's budget came from moving departments - like parking enforcement, the 911 call center, the emergency management department, and victim advocates - out of the SPD.

The council reduced another $20 million by cutting funding for vacated positions. The council also recommended 35 "out-of-order" layoffs for the SPD, in other words, reductions in force that don't follow seniority.

In addition to cutting the SPD's budget, the council did the following:

" Allocated $132,000 for the Office of Sustainability and the Environment (OSE) to restore the Green New Deal advisor position overseeing Green New Deal Programs

" Allocated $150,000 for "energy benchmarking" to increase the energy efficiency of commercial buildings

" Allocated $800,000 to convert homes from gas or oil heating to electric heating

" Allocated $140,000 for the Climate Policy Advisor position at the OSE

" Allocated $100,000 to Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) to fund 63 new Street Sinks across the city

" Allocated $286,000 to SPU to expand the encampment trash pick-up program to 13 more homeless encampments across the city

" Allocated $7 million to fund tiny home villages

" Allocated $30 million in Mercer Mega Block funds to equitable development projects

" Allocated $30 million to Mayor Durkan's Equitable Communities Initiative task force

" Increased car tab fees by $20, bringing the total fee to $40, to fund more transit service or bridge maintenance

" Allocated $30 million to the participatory budgeting process

" Allocated $254,000 to the Seattle Fire Department and $222,975 to the Human Services Department to scale up the Health One program

"I'm really proud of the work we've done together," Mosqueda said as the council voted. "We know there is tremendous work that needs to be done together. We need to be bold. We need to be courageous, and we need to keep pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones."

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